A New Twist in EU Climate Diplomacy

by William Yeatman on March 31, 2008

A new twist has emerged in the desperate scramble to achieve some sort of agreement among the EU-25 (2 EU countries are exempt from Kyoto) as to who must actually engage in what emission reductions to meet their collective post-2012 promise of -20% below 1990 GHG emission levels.

According to the Guardian, it seems the UK wants to redefine what sort of credit it gets for what its companies do under Kyoto’s “flexible mechanisms” – or FlexMex such as Clean Development Mechanism and Joint Implementation, under which credit is obtained for “clean” projects in other countries. The UK green groups are beside themselves, which tends to be their default stance anyway.

This move would be revolutionary because these illusory “reductions” – if, let’s face it, no more illusory than the extant pan-European claim of “reducing emissions” by paying China to slow down HFC production that it ramped up simply for that purpose – are now not counted toward an EU country’s (domestic) renewable energy promise. That’s what the UK wants to change, thereby reducing what it actually must do domestically to comply with the grandiose EU promises.


All of which is simply another way of reminding policymakers of the games people play when entering such arrangements as Kyoto or the EU’s own scheme. These rackets scream out for gaming by well-heeled constituencies which often include nation-states. In this particular case, it pits rent-seeking constituencies in the UK – “clean coal” vs. wind power being the example highlighted by the Guardian – against each other as to whose case the country will plead at the EU level.

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